Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Since the last General Election, the Government has championed the need for a comprehensive and robust strategy to tackle the growing obesity crisis, particularly for children. Today is a missed opportunity in that fight. The sugar levy alone isn’t enough to ensure children live long and healthy lives. While encouraging more exercise in schools is to be welcomed, the evidence is compelling that we also need restrictions on the marketing and promotion of unhealthy foods. We need stronger action to protect children from junk food advertising if we want to make a difference. So for the Government to ignore these aspects is inexcusable.

“The evidence is clear – children who are exposed to junk food adverts are more likely to eat unhealthy food and our research shows that they pester their parents to buy these foods for them. Removing junk food advertising on TV before 9pm would more than halve children’s exposure to this advertising.

“The Government had a chance to protect the next generation from diseases like cancer and reduce the crippling burden of obesity on the NHS. We need the ‘game changing’ strategy it promised a year ago. As it stands, our children will witness a rising tide of ill-health from obesity well into the future.”